75% is an increasingly popular layout in the exciting world of mechanical keyboard. You get all of the keys of a tenkeyless, rearranged in a cool space-saving layout that will bring the ladies (and gentlemen) to your yard. Today, we’re reviewing one of the most readily available 75% designs, the Drevo Excalibur, which features a range of switches, white LED backlighting and a gorgeous metal design. Let’s get into the full review!
The Excalibur has a rather lovely design, particularly the white model that I was sent to review. The keycaps have a rather stylistic, retro-futuristic font that I could take or leave, but the combination of tightly-set keys on a stylish silver metal chassis is certainly appealing.
As you’ve no doubt gathered, the Excalibur has a 75% layout, which is characterised by having all of the same keys as a tenkeyless keyboard, but in a rather more compact arrangement. Instead of having dedicated clusters for the arrow keys and navigation keys, they are sandwiched into the bottom right corner and right-hand side of the board, respectively. The gap between the F keys and the number keys has also been removed, bringing everything within easy reach to save on space. The numberpad, media, volume and lighting functions are accessible via a Function layer; there’s even a key for 00!
Inside, you’ll find your choice of Brown, Red, Black or Blue switches. I usually prefer Brown for their all-around utility and tactile feel, but these weren’t available for my review so I opted for red switches instead. These switches are branded with Drevo’s name, but should be made by Outemu or Kailh.
The keycaps are made from ABS and backlit, and come with a bit of a texture to prevent them from becoming too greasy and slippery.
The bottom of the keyboard is a little odd. It’s metal, which is nice, but Drevo has misspelled the name of their keyboard as ‘Excaibur’. That shows some pretty poor attention to detail; did no one look at these before they were made?
The feet are a little weird too, as they’re removable and rubbery rather than folding and plasticky. They work well enough, but you’ll need to remove them if you want to keep your keyboard in your bag. I worry that one day they’ll break, or let some damaging piece of dirt in through the hole they leave behind.
The keyboard has a removable Micro USB cable: better than Mini USB, worse than USB-C. I’ll take it for now, but in a couple years I expect to see mechanical keyboards with USB-C as the norm!
The keyboard has a programmable white backlight, which looks pretty snazzy with the provided keycaps. The white light should also suit other sets in a range of colours, assuming you can find ones to suit the relatively rare layout.
That’s about it when it comes to design, so let’s move onto impressions after a few weeks using the Excalibur!
The Excalibur is a fun keyboard to use. The experience will differ depending on the switches you choose, but I found the compact layout to be pretty useful for working on the go and ensuring maximum space for my mouse hand.
The metal chassis ensures good durability, although it also makes for a weighty board. The board feels well-made as a whole, and should hopefully last for years of happy typing and gaming.
The misspelling of the board’s name on the underside is an embarrassment, and I also would have preferred to see better feet too. With the feet installed I feel the board is a little to angled, and without the feet it slopes downwards considerably. However, it should be suitable for most users.
The neutral white backlighting is stylish. The backlighting can be customised and switched between various modes, but with only one colour on offer I kept it on ‘simply on’ for most of my testing. The neutral backlighting and silver base plate will suit a range of keycap sets, although finding a complete replacement may be difficult and/or expensive due to the 75% layout.
(Most keycaps could be replaced easily, but the 1x size right modifier keys mean you’ll have to go with incorrect legends on these keys. Similarly, if you replace the navigation cluster keys, you’ll find the difference in size from row to row becomes a bit jumbled up.)
The Drevo Excalibur is a nice choice for anyone that wants to try the cool and compact 75% layout. The keyboard itself seems well built from sensible materials, although the less said about the bottom of the board, the better. Still, that’s not enough to significantly detract from what is otherwise a well-crafted keyboard in a fun niche layout.
If you’d like a Drevo Excalibur of your very own, check out the links below.
You can also find a version with Cherry MX switches at a slightly higher price point.